Wednesday NBA player prop picks: With status of stars in doubt, Maxey, Booker among bets to consider

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Dallas’ Luka Doncic were both listed as questionable Wednesday entering the shootarounds of their respective teams, which is when coaches get a better idea of exactly what they’ll likely be working with when action tips off in the evening.

Both are likely to suit up, but won’t be included here since neither is a lock to play after appearing on the 12:30 p.m. ET injury report.

Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and Phoenix’s Bradley Beal have already been ruled out for the night, while Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert had their playing status in doubt after missing action over the weekend. 

Brooklyn, Houston, Oklahoma City, Orlando, and Washington are all playing on the second night of a back-to-back, so they all face challenges looking to get back into the swing of things post-holiday.

Even though a lot remains murky due to the situations listed above, there are still a few situations where we’re clear on whether we’re riding or fading certain players as we take a look at the Wednesday night NBA prop market.

Tyrese Maxey points prop, Franz Wagner P+R+A worth a look

The Magic held off the Wizards on Tuesday night to move back in front of Miami by a half-game for first place in the Southeast Division. They get a golden opportunity to increase that edge with Embiid sitting again due to an ankle sprain. 

Philadelphia was lost without the reigning MVP in Monday’s 119-113 loss at the Heat, falling behind early before rallying to tie the game entering the fourth before host Miami took control despite the absence of Jimmy Butler.

Tyrese Maxey shot a brutal 4-for-20 from the field, finishing 1-for-8 from 3-point range. He also missed half of his six free throws. Although Orlando’s Jalen Suggs is an excellent defender, he’s been nursing a wrist issue that cost him a few games and may lack the conditioning to see his usual workload in this one. 

Maxey’s points prop is at , inflated given that he averages 25.9, but he should get the volume necessary to surpass it in Central Florida. Maxey had topped the 30 point mark in wins over Minnesota and Toronto prior to the loss in Miami and played 44 minutes as head coach Nick Nurse counted on him to run the offense with Embiid sidelined.

The veteran head coach is a proponent of playing his top guys extended minutes, so we’ll look for Maxey to have plenty of chances to bounce back from his rough showing on Christmas night. Back the over on Maxey’s points.

On the Orlando side, although reigning Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero gets most of the attention, Franz Wagner continues to stuff the stat sheet in doing whatever is necessary as a connector to keep Orlando’s offense flowing.

After not being credited with a single assist in Saturday’s win in Indiana, Wagner flirted with a triple-double in Tuesday’s 127-119 win in D.C., coming up with team-highs of 28 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. Wagner’s P+R+A number is listed as and should be surpassed without Embiid around to protect the rim for the 76ers.

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Devin Booker points+assists going OVER key for free-falling Suns vs. Rockets

If the playoffs were set to start today, a Suns squad that was among the Western Conference favorites when the season began wouldn’t even make the play-in round. 

The biggest reason for Phoenix’s free fall has been injury-related, since Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Beal have only completed a single game together. Center Jusuf Nurkic missed the team’s last two games for personal reasons, but he’s expected to participate in the team’s visit to Houston. 

Rockets’ standout defender Dillon Brooks was banged up in Tuesday’s loss to Indiana and may not be at 100 percent for this matchup if he plays at all, which gives Booker an opportunity to continue putting up big numbers as he tries to help Phoenix snap out of a funk that has seen it drop five of its last six games. 

The Suns have been dreadful in fourth quarters despite a pair of elite closers at the controls. Durant is averaging nearly 31 points at 35 years of age, but has missed some big shots when it’s mattered most, which suggests that he needs to be kept fresher as the season unfolds. Booker has scored over 20 points in each game this month but has only surpassed 30 once.

He’s delivered at least seven assists in nine of 10 December contests, including eight in succession, and given the need to start producing victories, expect Booker’s sense of urgency to be ramped up. Expect him to produce OVER points plus assists in Houston, a number that actually provides some value since he’s averaging over 27 points and eight assists for the season.

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New York’s Brunson is balling, but playing limbo on his numbers could be lucrative in OKC

New York’s Brunson was one of the biggest All-Star snubs a season ago but won’t be denied this time around.

The Knicks point guard is shooting over 45 percent from 3-point range for the season. He scored 38 points to help roast the Bucks on Christmas Day in an upset. In helping secure a split of back-to-back matchups over a 48-hour stretch, Brunson hit 30 of 54 shots, averaging 37 points over the two games. He ran the point in Monday’s win without committing a single turnover. 

Brunson went 9-for-9 from 3-point range earlier this month, scoring 50 points in an upset win in Phoenix. He helped win at the Lakers on Dec. 18, pouring in another 29 points. It’s impossible not to notice the work he’s putting in, which makes him one of the favorites for Eastern Conference Player of the Month.

It also means bookmakers are going to jack up the prices on his props. Brunson’s points and assists prop for Wednesday’s game at Oklahoma City has been placed at , a figure he’s surpassed in just three of 11 December games despite his brilliance. He’ll be going from working against a suspect defender in Damian Lillard to squaring off with one of the NBA’s best in Luguentz Dort.

The Thunder also are capable of switching with guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams and Josh Giddey all capable of bothering Brunson with their length, and rookie center Chet Holmgren continues to flourish as a rim protector.

Considering Brunson has replaced Julius Randle as the Knicks player who you have to stop first as the focal point of the scouting report, fading him here is the move.

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